Books We Read: The French and Indian War (Hello Benjamin Franklin!)

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This week, we studied the French and Indian Wars as we lead up the Revolutions.  We also spent a lot of time reading about Benjamin Franklin, and finished up reading about George Washington Carver.

Next week, we’re looking at the American demand for liberty.  Look for that post next Friday!

(Again, this isn’t a comprehensive list of our resources… just some of the extra reading we enjoyed.)

The Boston Massacre, Susan Martins Miller  (Historical Fiction, Grades 4-6)

In The Boston Massacre, the tension between Americans and the British continues to mount.  Five American men are shot and killed as the Patriots surround and harass a British soldier.  Is it murder, or is it justifiable self-defense?  Miller covers the turbulent period of time with many reminders that only God knows the truth in some circumstances.  She reminds children that politics will always change.  Though civics are important, we are to concentrate on the truly important things in this life.

This is book #10 in The American Adventure series – 48 consecutive books from Barbour.  Though the series is out of print, it was produced in the late 1990′s, and there are still lots of copies floating around.  I got most of mine in a large lot on eBay.  When I’m looking for a series, that’s my favorite way to buy, as it really lowers the cost of shipping (per book).  We will only read through book #12 this school year; the series runs through the end of World War II.

Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin As written by His Good Mouse Amos, Robert Lawson  (Historical Fiction, Grades 4-6)

My boys enjoyed this humorous take on the life of Benjamin Franklin.  Robert Lawson makes Amos the Mouse the hero of the story, with Franklin portrayed as bumbling and comical.  Ben and Me is not a great representation of the life of Ben Franklin (particularly when Amos leads a massive tactical effort of mice and rats against the French court), however, it’s cute and fun, and Lawson’s illustrations are endearing.  I heard a lot of belly laughs as I was reading.

Benjamin Franklin: A Man of Many Talents, the Editors of TIME For Kids with Kathryn Hoffman Satterfield (Biography, Grades 1-3)

This colorful biography features a plethora of artwork from the time.  Each chapter is only 4 to 6 pages long, has occasional sidebars (like TIME magazine) and is written so children can read it to themselves.  One note that may be of interest to you: several of the other biographies and project books we are using this week refer to Deborah Read as Franklin’s “wife”.  This is only true if you accept the definition of “common-law marriage” as valid.  This children’s biography, however, is very upfront about Franklin’s illegitimate first son (William), and his decision to live with Read without marrying her.  We embarked this week on a 9-week display of Franklin’s work; his adultery, character and subsequent decisions became the subject of much discussion.  I have now fairly warned you.

Who Was Ben Franklin?, Dennis Brindell Fradin (Biography, Grades 2-4)

This is a nice introduction to Benjamin Franklin for younger students.  The book is laden with illustrations by John O’Brien, and the text is easy to read.  The story is well-told, and focuses on Franklin’s personal life, as well as his achievements.  As in the TIME Magazine biography, Fradin does not shy away from Franklin’s relationship with Deborah Read or his first illegitimate child.  Fradin approaches the issue by explaining that Read and Franklin had a problem – and they “solved” the problem with a common-law marriage.  The book also shares Franklin’s troubled relationship with his oldest son William.  I am glad I chose to read both biographies aloud with my children.

George Washington Carver: Man’s Slave Becomes God’s Scientist, David Collins  (Fictionalized Biography, Grades 1-3)

We spent four weeks reading about Carver as part of our CQLA unit on meekness.  Carver was a fascinating man, an orphan, a slave freed during the American Civil War, a believer, and a scientist.  I loved how Carver glorified the Lord in all things, and sought His guidance in all things.  Through his diligence, George Washington Carver greatly raised the living standards of southern farmers, and furthered our understanding of botany, nutrition, and farming.  Have you ever eaten peanut butter?  You can thank Carver – though he might tell you to thank God.

2 John, 3 John and Jude (The Bible!)

We’re almost through the New Testament!  The boys have been reading to themselves.  They’ve had so many questions about Revelation, that we’re going to read that book together.

What did your family read last week?

~ Danika Cooley

Danika Cooley is a freelance children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr., Pockets, Devozine, Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey and in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.  

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